Better than Babka: Kokosh Cake + Video
Fine. Uh. Lee. FINALLY.
I did it. I've found it. The perfect kokosh cake recipe.
It was a long and arduous journey. Not an unpleasant journey. It had its perks, like tasting countless babka and kokosh cake recipes. But it was quite a process, which, if you've been following me on Instagram for the past couple of months, you might be familiar with.
And don't worry - I'll explain what kokosh cake is in just a bit (hint: it's the magnificent beauty you see in the photos here). But first things first - watch this video tutorial I made for this kokosh cake, which might give you some idea:
Or, watch it on Youtube.
So, lemme tell you about the journey.
I started out energized and armed with about seven or eight babka recipes and chocolate filling recipes that I procured from blogs and cookbooks and magazines that looked the most promising.
And one by one (or three by three), I tried them all out. And a few of the recipes were good. Great, even. But not at all what I had had in mind. Which was when I realized my error.
The whole time that I had been searching for the ideal babka recipe, something just seemed off. Each babka cake that I tried was made with a yeast dough that rose for a couple of hours before being spread with a chocolate filling, being braided, occasionally being topped with a crumb topping, and being baked off in the oven to emerge high and hefty and fluffy and crumbly and caky.
But this wasn't what I wanted. I was basing my picturesque babka cake off of one that I'd been seeing at my local kosher bakery. But my model bakery babka cake wasn't actually babka cake. It was kokosh cake!
And now I'll explain what Kokosh cake.
Kokosh cake is the lesser-known, more flat, more dense, more rich, more chocolaty, more gooey, less attractive sister of babka cake. It's also the easier and waaaaaay quicker version of babka cake. DING DING DING.
Kokosh dough has yeast just like babka dough does. But the dough for kokosh cake doesn't need to rise. At all. It's ready to be rolled out right after being kneaded for two minutes until all the ingredients are incorporated. Magic, I tell you.
And you don't even want to let the dough rise, because you don't want your kokosh cake to grow in the oven to become a light, fluffy, caky entity. NO.
You want your kokosh cake to stay nice and flat and compact and dense. This is what makes it so gooey and rich and amazing.
The dough for kokosh cake is also rolled out much more thinly than the dough for babka cake is. This ensures that you have that many more layers of paper-thin dough to fill with as much glossy, gooey, wet chocolate filling as possible.
About that chocolate filling.
This was another journey. The finding-the-best-chocolate-filling journey. The same chocolate filling can be used for both babka and kokosh cakes. The doughs and rolling techniques are very different for the two cake types. But the filling stays the same.
Because for both cake types, you want a VERY generous chocolate filling. Not a dry, powdery filling made with just some sugar and cocoa powder mixed together. No, the chocolate filling needs to have melted butter in it to make it more rich and tasty and a liquid in it to make it more gooey and wet.
The liquid I found to be the best for the filling is egg whites. Because using just water made my fillings too runny and diluted the flavor of the chocolate quite a bit. But egg whites give the filling the gooeyness you need without making the filling too runny. It also makes the chocolate filling kind of chewy at the edges, which is interesting and pleasant and very welcome.
A rich, lightly sweetened, dense, vanilla yeast dough stuffed with as much rich, gooey, sweet chocolate filling as possible that comes together in about 20 minutes and is out of the oven in 28 minutes. That's kokosh cake, for you.
better than babka: kokosh cake
Yield: 2-4 loaves
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup orange juice
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz.) butter, softened
3 cups packed flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Canola or vegetable oil, for spreading
- 1 egg, for brushing
1 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, pour in yeast and teaspoon sugar. Pour warm water on top and let mixture foam for 5-10 minutes.
Add in rest of dough ingredients and knead on medium speed for a couple minutes. If dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour. The dough is now ready - no need to rise!
Chocolate Filling: In a medium bowl, mix cocoa powder with melted butter. Add in rest of filling ingredients and stir till combined and mostly smooth.
Assembly: Flour work surface and rolling pin. Divide dough into as many logs as you'd like to make (2 large, 3 medium, 4 smaller etc.).
Roll out first piece of dough into a very thin rectangle. Spread a light coating of oil on top of dough. Then, spread a generous layer of chocolate filling over dough, leaving about an inch of dough bare on all the edges.
Roll up dough from shorter side, flattening the dough slightly between each roll, forming a flattish log. Brush top of log generously with a beaten egg. Repeat process with rest of dough.
Place logs onto prepared baking sheets and bake for about 25-32 minutes (depending on size of loaf), or until tops and bottoms are a deep golden brown. I bake mine closer to 25 minutes, because I like them kind of raw inside, but most people don't ;)
Serve warm or room temperature.
Dough recipe adapted from SheKnows